West Nile virus:
West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne pathogen belonging to the Flaviviridae family. WNV is transmitted primarily by infected mosquitoes, but other mechanisms of infection have been identified, including transmission through blood transfusion, organ transplantation, transplacental transfer, and through breast milk from an infected mother to her infant. Since its introduction into North America in 1999, WNV has spread across the continent, with the CDC reporting more than 30,000 confirmed cases in the United States during this time frame. While many instances of WNV infection are believed to be asymptomatic, reported mortality rates among WNV cases have ranged from 7–14%, with death rates among hospitalized elderly patients ≥65 years of age reaching as high as 35%.
Although veterinary vaccines against WNV have been licensed since 2001, to date a human vaccine remains unavailable. With funding awarded through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Najít has partnered with Oregon Health & Science University, the Oregon National Primate Research Center, and Washington University-St. Louis to develop an inactivated whole-virus WNV vaccine using its proprietary Hydrovax™ platform, with pre-clinical studies demonstrating significant immunity and protection. This vaccine has the potential to be used by a broad and immunologically diverse population without the risks associated with certain live viral vaccines. The recent WNV outbreaks observed in the United States and abroad only serve to underscore the continued need for a safe and effective vaccine against this debilitating and potentially lethal disease.